There was a tense atmosphere at the National Assembly (NASS) yesterday, 24 hours to the unveiling of the lists of the leadership of the standing committees of the two chambers of the legislature.
The Presidency, which had hijacked the statutory functions of the presiding officers of the Senate and House of Representatives in selecting the leadership and membership of the various committees of the two chambers of NASS, had forwarded the lists to Senate President Godswill Akpabio and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas.
Reliable sources at NASS confided in LEADERSHIP that Akpabio and Abbas received correspondence containing the names of the chairmen and deputy chairmen of the standing committees from a senior aide in the Presidency yesterday evening. The presiding officers are expected to just read out the names during plenary on today.
Akelicious learnt that uncertainty over the fate of the lawmakers in the allotment of the chairmen and deputy chairmen of the various standing committees of the two chambers had ignited anger and resentment among the lawmakers ahead of the official presentation of the controversial lists today.
Akelicious gathered that most lawmakers are fuming that they were unfairly treated in the allocation of the leadership of the committees. The panic-stricken lawmakers clustered in groups at NASS yesterday to review their fate.
Abbas was absent at the plenary yesterday apparently to avoid pressure from his colleagues.
Also, members of the ‘Lagos cabal’ and their cronies in the House were also absent, similarly to ward off pressure from their embittered colleagues.
Reports available to LEADERSHIP yesterday revealed that some aggrieved lawmakers, who felt slighted by the outcome of the exercise, have formed a dissident group named “Reformation Group.”
A lawmaker from the North East was fingered as the founder and financier of the group.
It was learnt that the group is planning to hire a space at an elitist hotel in Abuja to serve as its secretariat.
Already, the dissenting group is rallying opposition against the leadership of the two chambers.
A majority of the members are drawn from the South-West and North-Central geopolitical zones. The lawmakers from the North-Central, according to one of our sources, are still nursing the wounds of the exclusion of the zone from allocation of the six main offices in the Presidency and NASS.
Findings also revealed that some contenders for the office of the Speaker of the House, who stepped down for Abbas ahead of the June 13th election in NASS, have given tacit approval and support to the group.
They were said to be livid that the Presidency reneged on the promises made to them to entice them to backpedal on their aspirations.
According to one of its promoters, the group has been embraced by a large number of lawmakers from the South West, the geopolitical zone, where President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, hails from.
The source said lawmakers from the South-West were also disenchanted by the dominant roles Lagos State was playing at the detriment of other states in the zone in the scheme of things at the national level.
Investigation by this newspaper further showed that lawmakers from South-West states of Ekiti, Ondo, Ogun, Oyo and Osun were unhappy that Lagos State was being treated as synonymous with the zone in power sharing arrangement at the federal level.
According to him, the South West lawmakers easily pointed at the report that four of the seven juicy committees allocated to the zone were unilaterally allotted to lawmakers from Lagos State, leaving the remaining three slots to their colleagues, from other five states in the belt, considered loyal to the “Lagos cabal.”
It was gathered that the mission of the group would be unveiled during the six-week recess commencing on Friday.
Consequently, Akelicious learnt that the selection committee raised by the House to pick the leadership and membership of the various committees had become redundant following the hijacking of their functions by the Presidency.
The activities of the committee were aborted after two futile sessions.
Fears of possible backlash of the announcement of the composition of the committees were palpable yesterday. This informed counsel by some members of the inner circles of the House Speaker to tinker with the idea of deferring the announcement of the committees’ leadership.
But it was gathered that Abbas was compelled by forces from the Presidency, which insisted that the exercise be concluded and made public today.
Meanwhile, there are reports of protests by the South-East caucus of the House over the composition of the committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The caucus insisted that the South-South could not pick the leadership of the NDDC committees in both chambers. The group asked that either of the committees in the Senate or the House be ceded to the members from the oil producing states of Abia and Imo states.
One of the sources said, “The presiding officers of the Senate and House of Representatives have received the lists of the committee leadership and membership from a top presidential aide. In fact they got the list on Wednesday evening. So, all is now set for the announcement of the chairmen and deputy chairmen of the committees tomorrow (today).
“There are rumblings and grumbling in the NASS but I think all this will be laid to rest by tomorrow (Thursday) when the lists are officially unveiled. There is no doubt that senators and House members are unhappy because many of them didn’t get what they bargained for. Many promises made before the June election were reneged. There is likely to be a backlash after the announcement but the exercise has to be completed and we move forward.
“There was a suggestion that the announcement be suspended due to the envisaged backlash but the presidential aide and members of his Lagos cabal and their collaborators outside Lagos State dismissed the advice that whatever protest that come up would be crushed and that whatever has been done are iron cast and no Jupiter can halt the process, and that it has to run through and be completed on Thursday. You can see that these Lagos guys are unrepentantly arrogant. That’s the style of the latest cabal in the Villa.”
Another of our sources added, “There are so many issues. Even the South-East caucus is also asking for the leadership of the NDDC committee in either the Senate or House of Representatives. They are saying that the South-South cannot continue to monopolise the two committees in both chambers. The lawmakers from the zone, mainly the aggrieved members elected on the platform of Labour Party (LP) are demanding that one of them be ceded to either Abia state or Imo state.”
“Even some lawmakers in the two chambers are already ganging up. They have formed a group they named Reformation Group, ostensibly to confront the leadership of NASS after the recess. This is to show the depth of the resentment in NASS. Majority of the lawmakers are not happy and many members are signing for the group.
The response from the South-West and North-Central is unimaginable. The cabal is collecting money and the committees are for sale. The selection committee became moribund as its roles were hijacked by forces who helped our presiding officers to secure their jobs. The presiding officers are frustrated and dejected.
“You can see that Mr. Speaker didn’t come for plenary today (Wednesday) despite that he’s in Abuja. He is obviously avoiding members of the House because he didn’t know what to tell members, who are going to pose some questions to him over the turn of events,” added a House member, who requested anonymity.
As usual, neither Akpabio nor Abbas responded to enquiries by our correspondent.
Similarly, the chairman, House Ad-hoc Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Khadija Bukar Abba, did not respond to calls and messages sent to her to get her reaction to the report.
On Deadline, Tinubu Sends Ministerial List To Senate
To beat the constitutional deadline, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has sent the ministerial list of his cabinet to the Senate for screening and confirmation.
A principal officer of the Senate told LEADERSHIP yesterday that the list had arrived at the Senate adding that the Senate President Godswill Akpabio will make the formal announcement at plenary.
It was gathered that the list is coming on the last day the Senate sits in a week and only hours before the expiration of the 60 days provided by law for the president to send the list of his ministers to the National Assembly for screening and confirmation.
Despite speculations, the Senate leader, Bamidele Okpeyemi, on Tuesday, said the long awaited ministerial list of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu was ready and that it will be presented to the Senate in 48 hours, a timeline that expires today.
Bamidele, a lawyer who served as a legislative aide to Tinubu when he served as senator, said he spoke with the President who said he needs to be alone because of the crucial decision he has taken concerning the ministerial list.
Nigeria’s Constitution gives the president 60 days to submit a list of his ministers and Tinubu, who was sworn in on May 29, 2023, still has a window until tomorrow for the submission of the list of his ministers.
Section 42 of the 1999 constitution, as amended, states that “(a) the nomination of any person to the office of a Minister for confirmation by the Senate shall be done within sixty days after the date the President has taken the oath of office;
(b) Not less than ten percent of persons appointed as Ministers shall be women: Provided that the President may appoint a minister at any other time during his tenure and such appointment shall be subject to confirmation by the Senate.”
The constitution also adds that the president shall appoint at least a minister from each of the 36 states of the federation, and the federal capital territory.
But speaking to LEADERSHIP, a principal officer said: “that the list of the ministers is now at the Senate. The president of the Senate will now be the one to announce the official communication between the presidency and the National Assembly. So, the list of the ministers is at the National Assembly and will soon be announced.”